Long time lurker here, first time posting. I've been following conversations for a while, especially those with advice on what sea kayak to use for what occasion. Also on Drysuits vs semi-dry.
Finally the time has arrived for my first sea kayak purchase. I've been kayaking a rec (10 ft) for over year, my wife and I recently moved and will begin sea kayaking this season. I've already lined up indoor pool lessons for us (rescue, wet exits, beginning sea kayaking, etc) for the next month or two.
As I researched for almost a year, out of everyone's reviews I was leaning towards a Zephyr 155 or a tempest 160 as my first sea kayak. It's in my price range, people review them very highly, and they seem to have what I'm looking for.
- A boat I can grow into
- Playful *** very important
- Can handle camping gear (I don't need extended trips' worth, but for a weekend or so they seem to have more than enough space)
- Decent speed
- Comfortable seat
- Eventually I'd really like to learn how to roll
The truth is that I won't need to be the fastest on the water, especially since I will almost always be paddling with my wife who is a bit slower paced. However, if I go with other groups I want to be able to at least keep up with the group.
So the dilemma comes late into my search. It seems that most people still consider the Romany worth checking out at some point in their kayak career. So, in your past experience, do you guys consider it a better idea to search for a used Romany or the like, or would a Zephyr/Tempest suit me well? What about the plastic version of the Romany? Does anyone have experience with it?
Also, my stats are 5'11", 165 lbs.
Any feedback would be a great help. I know there isn't one boat out there that's perfect for everything, but I think I can certainly narrow it down based on what I want to do with it.
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Posted by: Celia on Feb-26-13 1:36 PM (EST)
Posted by: benglert on Feb-26-13 2:06 PM (EST)
I found the Zephyr 160 easy to roll, it's the only boat I have been able to roll on my own so far (still learning). My daughter has it now and she is very happy with it. It is a fun boat to paddle, and can be a bit directionally challenged without a bit of skeg deployed. Very maneuverable, and the Zephyr 155 is supposed to be even more playful (it's too small for me). I hope to get another Zephyr 160 this season.
Posted by: Marshall on Feb-26-13 2:43 PM (EST)
Expand your mfg parameters and add the P&H Delphin or Aries. Still has a good cruise speed for a 15'5" kayak, wicked manuveable,, enough storage to pack for overnighters, forgiving and quite easy to roll. There's a couple of 3 hatch 2012 Aries models on eBay.
I'm unsure how to reply |
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-26-13 3:11 PM (EST)
to everyone at once. Thanks for the comments. You're right, the tempest from what I read isn't playful, but so many people hold it in high regards. Seems to always make it onto "must try sometime" lists.
i have |
Posted by: svenkalmar on Feb-26-13 3:19 PM (EST)
the zephyr 155rm. ive owned and paddled the T165 and ive finally checked out a romany.
what can you get in and demo|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Feb-26-13 3:27 PM (EST)
What Peter-CA said|
Posted by: Marshall on Feb-26-13 3:46 PM (EST)
Time to go play with kayaks. Awfully hard paddling electrons here.
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-26-13 3:59 PM (EST)
in weschester, NY. Right by the Long Island sound and CT border.
Posted by: Marshall on Feb-26-13 8:01 PM (EST)
Tempest 165? Is there a 160?|
Posted by: pikabike on Feb-26-13 4:19 PM (EST)
Or do you mean a Tsunami 160? I didn't think there was a Tempest 160.
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-26-13 4:28 PM (EST)
I meant the 165
For where you are....|
Posted by: Celia on Feb-26-13 4:28 PM (EST)
wait to buy until you can get your seat into boats. You are by some fairly serious and often underrated water. The right sea kayak will make a of of diff here.
We Can Talk|
Posted by: Kudzu on Feb-26-13 4:43 PM (EST)
I've owned a Tempest 165 for a long time. When you demo it keep in mind that the seat can be moved back some to make entry and exit easier. I wanted a 2nd, turnier, playfuler, surfier, boat so I demoed the smaller Zephyr. I found the Zephyr to be a bit too similar to my Tempest 165. I wanted turnier. I found a demo Alchemy for half price and jumped on it. If you really value playful, try the smaller Alchemy. The T165 is a fine do-everything-pretty-good boat while the Alchemy is more of a leaky-rear-hatch plaything. (If you're bold you can also move the seat back in the Alchemy).
Tempest 165 and Romany fine for|
Posted by: pikabike on Feb-26-13 5:14 PM (EST)
...what you listed. Of the two, I found the Romany (LV version) more maneuverable. I've heard complaints about it not tracking well. Both are good all-'round boats, depending which way your prefs skew.
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-26-13 7:26 PM (EST)
For the lengthy feedback. This really helps. One question- would 14 ft be enough for rough waters? I think I saw that the alchemy was around that length. I might be mistaken.
You're on the right track,|
Posted by: t.george on Feb-26-13 8:35 PM (EST)
demo, demo, demo. I,(5'10" 155#), own a T-165pro, Z-155rm & a Alchemy 14s(tight fit, the 14l is what you should look at). They are IMO, all very different boats with a fair amount of overlap; in turning & general playfullness, they'd be rated A, Z, T, in tracking without skeg, T, A, Z, in beginer friendliness, A, T, Z, in ease of rolling, T, Z gets an edge on A, in speed, T, Z, A, in "rough water paddling"(as in ease to hold course, least effort & least effected by quartering seas), T, Z, A, they all have enough storage for what you're asking. I should add that I'm usually more comfy in my Z than the Alchemy, so do a lot of rock gardening & surfing in it; if I could only have one, for me it'd be the quirky little Z since it's better in ways that are improtant to me & I can back surf it :).
Posted by: t.george on Feb-26-13 8:49 PM (EST)
I meant to add that though I love the Zephyr, it does not perform that well without some deep edging and a fair amount of aquired skills; further it will punish bad technique. Conversely, the Alchemy will do quite a bit for the novice and can really really shine in the hands of the skilled.
rought water and short...|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Feb-26-13 8:44 PM (EST)
Length and rough water|
Posted by: Celia on Feb-26-13 9:20 PM (EST)
It's the overall hull design and the features (bulkheads, smaller cockpit etc) that make a rough water boat. Until more recently the right features were rare to find in a boat less than 16 feet, not because it was impossible but because kayak manufacturers hadn't seen a clear market to design such a boat. But there is a solid consumer base for these boats and the manufacturers have responded.
Posted by: rrose on Feb-26-13 11:13 PM (EST)
hands down the best of the bunch. It does everything well and has sufficient storage for weekend camping. Rock solid and well tested. Get the standard fiberglass setup. Comes with a skeg and a day-hatch, which is a very handy hatch to have. Hardly ever use the skeg. Tracks very well and speed should be very good for you at your weight. If you get almost any boat in plastic, you've got to transport the boat on its sides or upside down to prevent oil-canning during the heat of summer... The Romany has a key-hole cockpit which allows sit down and then bring legs in and vice -versa. The hatches are extremely dry. They are built to take punishment. Primary stability is excellent as is secondary. The boat tracks very well and carves turns easily while on edge. I love mine and my wife likes it a lot. I prefer glass boats over plastic, until I hit an oyster bed...
Matter of fit too|
Posted by: Kocho on Feb-26-13 11:24 PM (EST)
You guys are completely right|
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-27-13 8:07 AM (EST)
There won't be any one boat out there that will cover everything. However, I think once I get my first, it'll be a couple of years before I get the next one. I'm not worried about the learning curve. I'd rather struggle a bit as I learn and take classes and have plenty of learning room for the next couple of years.
Get the Z 15.5|
Posted by: Kocho on Feb-27-13 9:46 AM (EST)
This is the most versatile of the bunch with play as a high priority and by far the cheapest, along with the T165. The Zephyr is also lighter than the rest, even the plastic Z is lighter than the fiberglass Romany and probably more durable where hard banging against rocks is involved. The Delphin handles better for bigger wave surfing and for currents, the Tempest is nicer to cover some distance in. All good choices, including the Romany, but for $600-$900 used a Z or a T makes a lot of sense to me as a firs boat for what you want. They are a bit lively but actually quite stable once you get used to them. The Delphin (and I think the Romany too) have stronger initial stability since they are flatter and more square bottomed, so they will be easier to get in and just paddle coming from a rec boat. The Delphin is unfortunately quite heavy at over 60lb and the T165 is low in the cockpit, which some don't like for long days on the water. The hatches on the D are watertight and very solid; the ones on the Z may or may not bewatertight (more variation there) and are not as solid, but still fine and safe. So try them all - as long as the skeg works, the hatches close well, and the foam bulkheads are sealed (you can do that yourself easily if they aren't) - there is very little that can be wrong with a used plastic boat, so IMO the risk of buying used plastic Z or T is low, if they look good overall - fiberglass you have to see in person carefully as there might be hidden damage/soft spots/repairs/cracks etc. that are not easily evident from photos.
keep in mind|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Feb-27-13 1:21 PM (EST)
What I said about shorter being better was a generalization, and Celia added a very important note to this - only works on boats that are made as touring boats (so have hatches front and back, hull shapes made for moving,m etc.). Rec boats are shorter, but are not made for rough water.
Posted by: lewesbound on Mar-02-13 3:52 PM (EST)
I love the manueverability of the Delphin and that lovely sound it makes when you break the stern loose and skid.
Posted by: magooch on Feb-27-13 11:54 AM (EST)
Check out what is available from Novus Composites Kayaks. They are all American made and are super kayaks. nckayaks.com.
Posted by: angstrom on Feb-27-13 2:42 PM (EST)
At your size, don't miss an opportunity to demo an Avocet RM.
Others in the lineup|
Posted by: Marshall on Feb-27-13 3:52 PM (EST)
In addition to something Delphin/Aries wise, when you're up for it and here, others that'd be worth taking out of the Boathouse would be;
Looks like I have a new list|
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-27-13 4:03 PM (EST)
To continue researching. Thanks again all. We have our first indoor pool session coming up this weekend. I'm pumped to get going.
Many other boats to try|
Posted by: JimZ on Feb-27-13 11:52 PM (EST)
Unfortunately I am bigger than you and do not fit well in the Romanies, and Zephyr 155. I really liked the Zephyr 160 Pro for fit and maneuverability. It would be a great all-around play boat. Rolling the Zephyr 155 was the best next to my SOF. Wilderness has the best seats. After trying the Aries 155 and Delphin 155, I think they are the best all-around play boats. I found a good deal on an Aries 155 and now have one.
Posted by: Dgremlin on Feb-28-13 11:56 AM (EST)
I got the Tempest 165 for Christmas and it's a fantastic boat but don't even consider it...you'll never fit. I'm 5'6", 150lbs and with size 10 shoes. The foot room can be a bit cramped for me at times but otherwise it fits me like a glove. The 170 or even the 180 Pro would be great for you size wise.
Posted by: edzep on Feb-28-13 12:03 PM (EST)
Fit for the OP may depend on what type of footwear is used, and whether the Tempest seat were to be moved back, as a number of owners have done. There are guys that size that enjoy the T165.
I think sizing will be determined |
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-28-13 12:52 PM (EST)
When I finally get to sit in some options and test things out.
One more addition|
Posted by: exorxist on Feb-28-13 12:57 PM (EST)
I also think I'll be able to get another boat down the line depending on what I like best at that point. Maybe I fall in love with playing in surf, I think at that point it would be excellent to then purchase my next boat specifically for that task. And vice versa...
A quiver full|
Posted by: Marshall on Feb-28-13 1:08 PM (EST)
Welcome to the addiction.
Now Yer Talkin'|
Posted by: Kudzu on Feb-28-13 4:37 PM (EST)
If you want a 'do everything pretty good' boat my vote is with the T165. Down the road look at the Alchemy-Delphin-type shorter-funner boats.
Posted by: Kudzu on Feb-28-13 4:31 PM (EST)
Yes, and, it's not like they're clueless|
Posted by: edzep on Feb-28-13 5:02 PM (EST)
I have a Confluence Wavesport Fuse. The seat pan and attachment is nearly identical to the Tempest. The Wavesport pan is slotted, where we typically drill the extra holes in our Tempest pans. And, there's a unified thread plate on each side, instead of two nuts. So, you just loosen the external phillips heads, slide the seat, and tighten the screws.
I fit the 170|
Posted by: bartc on Feb-28-13 5:51 PM (EST)
Comfortably and not the 165. I'm 5'11" long legs 190 lb. size 12 shoe.
6'4" size 15 foot at 185lb and ...|
Posted by: Kocho on Feb-28-13 7:18 PM (EST)
not necessarily II|
Posted by: wilsoj2 on Mar-03-13 3:01 AM (EST)
I'm 6', size 11 shoe and have been very comfortable paddling a few different Tempest 165s.
Posted by: CEWilson on Feb-28-13 5:11 PM (EST)
The Yost designed Swift Saranac Series, 14 and 15 ft, high and low volume decks, respond nicely on the water for me. Easy to get a perfect fit with four, actually five choices, snd designed by a master to track and turn without skeg or rudder.
Posted by: wilsoj2 on Feb-28-13 8:07 PM (EST)
Among many benefits of the Romany is that there are many around and you can pick-up a used composite Romany for less than a new poly boat.
Hopefully this thread...|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Mar-01-13 12:08 PM (EST)
Hopefully this thread and the varying opinions about what would work, what would fit, etc. and how some people say yes to one boat and others say absolutely no to the same boat has convinced you (the OP) as to why butt time is important...
Posted by: exorxist on Mar-01-13 2:34 PM (EST)
I'm starting lessons on Sunday, so at least for now I know I will be testing a couple of differen boats, even if they're not the ones we've discussed in this thread.
Posted by: jonsprag1 on Mar-02-13 8:39 PM (EST)
as you can see everybody has an opinion as to which boat is the best for you. What I'm hearing is that they are all good boats---my advice is not to be an a hurry to buy one--try out as many as you can and then go with the one that suits you best. At your height and weight you have a variety of choices. And don't believe those folks who say you are too big or too small for a boat--try it yourself before deciding---what one paddler may find as cramped, another would find snug and secure, even responsive. Good luck and have fun paddling
So for our class this weekend|
Posted by: exorxist on Mar-05-13 11:17 AM (EST)
I got to paddle a p&h Cetus, glass. I couldn't believe how comfortable and well fitting that was. Towards the end of class (3+ hours of jumping in and out of the boat) I was starting to wish the seat was maybe a little more comfy. But overall, the fit was superb. Extremely out of budget of course. My wife was in an alchemy 14. She really liked it, super nimble and comfortable. We're certainly thinking of something along those lines for her. We also liked the tsunami 140.
Posted by: Celia on Mar-05-13 11:44 AM (EST)
Sounds good. Given your initial responses to these boats, the other two will probably grow on you better than the Tsunami.
Cetus Budget Alternative|
Posted by: Marshall on Mar-05-13 1:07 PM (EST)
If you liked the floorplan of the Cetus (MV? HV?) then you will likely react well with the 3 layer poly version of it, the Scorpio. 17' rather than 17'8" or 17"10". Internal height is a bit bigger then the Cetus MV. Weight is about the same as the longer Cetus in Fiberglass. Price is $1900 vs. the $3900 starting price of the composite Cetus.
Thanks for the info|
Posted by: exorxist on Mar-05-13 2:15 PM (EST)
As usual. Will continue researching.
Cetus, Scorpio, Alchemy|
Posted by: WaterMark on Mar-05-13 4:01 PM (EST)
I have both a Cetus and Scorpio and love them.
Posted by: Tarwheel on Mar-05-13 2:39 PM (EST)
If you are considering used, a P&H Capella RM 166 would fit all of your criteria. I don't think they are still exporting the Capella RM to the USA, but there are tons of used ones out there (at least in NC).
Posted by: Marshall on Mar-05-13 6:02 PM (EST)
Caution on the Capella. It's a different floor plan and performance vs. the Scorpio/Cetus format. The new Capella now by Venture Kayaks (P&H's day touring single layer plastic works) is a very tracky kayak with higher thighbrace position than the older 3 layer P&H Capella creation.
Capella RM 160|
Posted by: sapien on Mar-06-13 10:49 AM (EST)
might be a better fit for the OP, the 166 is the higher-volume version. It's an excellent kayak but not as fun as the Zephyr! I also found the seat and especially the thigh hooks more comfortable in the Z.
Follow up by OP (me)|
Posted by: exorxist on Apr-07-13 6:37 PM (EST)
So, after trying several boats (some I liked, some I didn't, some I loved but were outside my budget) I got to test the zephyr 155 and made my decision to get it. It fits like a glove. I just got back today from my first rolling class, and it was a pleasure to be in it. It was extremely forgiving on my hip snap, and really comfortable to lay back while swinging out of the water. After three hours of flipping over in the pool, I can't wait to go back next week.
Posted by: svenkalmar on Apr-07-13 6:53 PM (EST)
thats nice to hear. i love my Z155rm. mine is yellow..
Posted by: t.george on Apr-07-13 8:21 PM (EST)
congrats on sifting through all the opinons and coming up with one that worked for you. FWIW, I think you made a good choice from what you said on your OP. That boat can take you very far up the skill ladder.
Z 155 is great choice |
Posted by: rpg51 on Apr-07-13 8:25 PM (EST)
you are going to love it once you get in some moving water. Great plastic boat.
Posted by: exorxist on May-22-13 10:18 AM (EST)
I put together a short video on my rolling sessions earlier in April. I've been on the water with the Zephyr almost every weekend since. I absolutely love how this boat fits and handles, so once again thanks to all for the input as I made my decision to get it.